Category Archives: Sales

How to use personality tests

Can knowing your "type" help freelancers gain and retain more clients?
Can knowing your "type" help freelancers gain and retain more clients?

By Jake Poinier

If you’ve spent any time in the corporate world, you’ve probably taken DiSC or Myers-Briggs Type Indicator personality tests. Ironically enough, taking a Myers-Briggs at my last corporate job hastened my departure: In an “aha” moment, I realized that my type, ENTP (click the link for details on what makes me tick), was diametrically opposed to my boss’s type. I’d been plotting my escape for nearly a year, but the test confirmed what I suspected in my head about how we saw the world so differently. It also indicated that my personality would be good for entrepreneurship and therefore freelancing. I left about a month later.

Personality tests are not a crystal ball by any means, but they can help you understand a bit more about your strengths and weaknesses, and how you react under stress. For a freelancer, that can make them a powerful tool.

More important, if you do a little bit of research on the other types, you can start identifying what types your prospective freelance clients and current clients are. That, of course, enables you to modify how you treat those clients as individuals.

One of the things I learned during my two-year stint as a sales manager for a custom-magazine publishing company was how different each of the clients were that came from the different salespeople:

  • Tim’s were hard-driving, number-crunching folks who wouldn’t believe anything unless they saw it in a spreadsheet. (Conversely, if you were good at spreadsheets, you could make them believe almost anything.) You had to get right to the point, or they’d cut you off. It took a lot to win them over, but were very loyal once you did.
  • Frank’s sales were usually very personable and easygoing. They were the most pleasant to work with, but also had trouble with deadlines and weren’t very detail oriented. You had to shmooze them into compliance.
  • Bill’s sales were best described as aloof. They weren’t as driven as Tim’s, nor as friendly as Frank’s. They were not terribly loyal, because they were never very dedicated in the first place. Anytime Bill made a sale, I knew they weren’t in for the long haul.

The personality tests probably won’t tell you anything that you don’t know (or at least suspected) about yourself. But having an understanding of what motivates or irritates a client is essential to creating a lasting bond.

Have you taken one of these personality tests or something else? Do you use personality-oriented techniques in the sales process? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Contributing blogger Jake Poinier runs Boomvang Creative Group, a Phoenix-based editorial services firm. He also blogs about freelancing at — most recently about freelance ghostwriting rates.

A Sure-Fire Confidence Builder

Yes, you *can* cure presentation anxiety
Yes, you *can* cure presentation anxiety

By Jake Poinier

As a parent, your job is never done in correcting your kids’ use of the English language. I was reminded numerous times this morning as my high-school age son began a story with “George and me…” followed by my middle-school daughter injecting “like” into every other sentence. What I try to convey to them is that, while these are the types of things that help you not seem like a dork among peers, it’s not the way to impress teachers and (eventually) bosses.

With that thought, Joe’s post this week about being fearless triggered a memory for me on how we present ourselves as freelancers. As an entrepreneur who works with intellectual property, you are selling your skills — but you’re also selling yourself. And I can point to one single experience that was a sure-fire confidence builder far beyond all of the sales and marketing seminars I’ve ever attended.

I’m talking about Toastmasters.

I was required to attend a local chapter as a newbie salesperson back in the late ’90s. At first it seemed hopelessly contrived. The meetings are very structured, with different roles (timer, Jokemaster, emcee, etc.) assigned to each of the participants, and a very rigid timeline of what has to happen when. But even though my membership long ago lapsed, the lessons have stuck with me:

  • You get honest feedback on your presentation content and style. Having a third-party perspective on your speech patterns and gestures is an eye-opening, “do-I-really-do-that?” experience. With a little guidance and weekly practice, it’s amazing how fast you make progress and cure presentation anxiety. Bonus: If you say “um” and “ah” a lot, you’ll be cured of the habit.
  • You learn how to give honest feedback. Even when someone bombs, your job is to identify what they did well and help build on it. Yes, this is helpful when “guiding” your freelance clients to avoid or change something awful.
  • You learn how to be concise. Whether you’re telling a brief anecdote or giving a 5-minute speech, there’s a light box that signals yellow, green or red to tell you how you’re doing on time. Talking too much can be a deal killer.

Bottom line, if you have any fear about public speaking, your local Toastmasters chapter will help eradicate it in a fun, friendly, supportive environment. More important, you’ll feel far more confident presenting yourself in general, whether it’s making cold calls, pitching a new client, leading a writing seminar, or accepting a Nobel Prize in Literature.

What’s been your biggest confidence builder as you’ve started and grown your freelance business — workshop, club, personal guru? Please share in the comments!

When he’s not hanging around Freelance-Zone, contributing blogger Jake Poinier runs Boomvang Creative Group and offers freelancing advice under the pseudonym Dr. Freelance.